A New Home
"Relax, I know your species isn't adapted to water, but
surely you can try." The yellow Peophin gave Jess a soft look and continued to
beckon the green striped Xweetok forward.
But Jess cringed back, looking nervously at the
dark blue waves, continually lapping the ocean shore. "But…um...I can't swim,"
she protested in a stalling voice, "Isn't there…uh… another way?"
Her companion, whose name was Primrose, shook
her head gently, "This is where we live," she explained, "And there's nothing
wrong with our environment; it's just different that's all. You'll get used
to it after awhile."
With this, she dipped her golden yellow nose
into a pack that was slung about her shoulder, and brought out a perfect circlet
of glistening leaves clenched tightly in her teeth,
"Here," she offered, laying the necklace in front
of Jess, "It's a Sea Breath necklace, so that you can breathe comfortably underwater.
If you ask me it has much more quality than those potions they sell now days…and
you don't have to swim," she added at the still anxious look on Jess's face.
Then with a smile, she took the Xweetok's paw
in her hoof, and reassured softly, "I'll be with you, and be leading you through
the whole thing."
Jess had to smile at this. Primrose's kindness
was so comforting, and it gave her the feeling that her eventual life ahead
with this new family might just be the one she'd always wanted.
She found herself finally relenting to Primrose's
calls and soon her forepaws touched the water. It seemed to numb her with cold,
and the Xweetok shifted clumsily in the wet sand, wanting desperately to back
away. But then Primrose dropped the Sea Breath necklace over her friend's quivering
face, and then pulled Jess down below the surface.
Warmth replaced the cold, and Jess felt as if
an invisible bubble of fresh air had just encircled her. Her body seemed to
stop wanting to float back up, and following Primrose became as easy as simply
walking behind her. She didn't need to propel herself forward, because Primrose
was doing all the trouble, lifting her great tail up and down through the water.
Jess didn't loosen her grasp on the Peophin's hoof for even a second.
At first, the Xweetok kept her eyes shut tight,
not wanting to see anything below the dark ocean. I'll let go if I look,
she thought wildly, I just know it!
She held tighter than ever to her escort, trying
to escape the thought of letting go, and then sinking down into the dark depths,
But then Primrose nudged her, and remarked with
a light laugh, "Oh honestly, Jess! You don't know what you're missing…I say,
look at that!"
At this, Jess dared to let herself get a quick
glance at whatever Primrose's exclamation was. She gasped with wonder, and then
both her eyes were open, and staring.
Maraqua was in sight. And what a sight it was!
Towers of shining bright coral loomed above them. Garden after garden full of
forests of colorful kelp surrounded the city palace. Maraquan citizens and merchants
carrying trade goods and rare treasure were shouting and swarming all about
the town center, flashing out their stands and shops.
Jess even caught glimpses of the Maraquan guards,
strutting about in priceless Maractite.
Then her eyes widened, as she realized what she
was missing! All this time, Primrose had been leading her through a magnificent
neighborhood. Yet it seemed that the atmosphere varied quite a bit. As Jess
noticed, you couldn't really say that it was a rich place, yet it wasn't at
all shabby. Her eyes gazed upon mansions, decorated with the loveliest gardens.
She also noticed houses that were not so fancy, but more quaint and simple,
with a garden or two that gave the home a cozy look. Yet again she'd every now
and then see homes which were really only dilapidated shacks, with grime and
moss covering them and no garden at all to speak of.
Primrose turned her head towards her awestruck
friend, giving Jess a joyful smile, "We're almost there!" she cried out, and
indicated the path ahead. Jess looked to see that they were heading for a small
home, with three gardens in front. Above the doorway was a sparkly painted sign
that read in an untidy scrawl;
Welcome Jess! ?
Jess blushed, as she heard Primrose stifle a
giggle. "Count on Kendra to do that!" she chuckled.
At that moment a red Zafara, also wearing a Sea
Breath necklace, bounced out of the house, eyes shining. "Hey Primrose!" she
shouted, "Is she here? Did you bring her?"
"Calm down Kendra," Primrose insisted as the
Zafara dashed down the path to meet them. "Of course she's here. What did you
expect me to do, leave her on the beach?"
Kendra ignored this comment, merely turning her
head to Jess, "Hello," she greeted enthusiastically, "My name's Kendra," she
introduced herself. Then after a moment, she added brightly, "I guess you could
call me your new sister now!"
Jess felt jarred by the new title, but gave a
small smile, "I'm…well I guess you already know who I am," she admitted, catching
sight of the flashy sign again.
"Not really," said Kendra, "I mean we really
just met, and you're a new species too!"
Jess was just about to answer when Primrose suddenly
burst out, "Sarah!" and rushed down the path towards the house. Jess followed
her movement to see her fall with a laugh into the arms of a brown-haired girl,
who in turn laughed as well, caressing the Peophin with a loving hug.
Jess was truly amazed, having never seen such
an affectionate greeting. She grew nervous and self-conscious, and nearly jumped
out of her skin when Kendra suddenly grabbed her paw and dragged her stumbling
down the path to meet the girl, who was obviously her new owner.
"Look Sarah!" Kendra cried out, skidding to a
halt in front of the girl, and nearly making Jess bump into her back from behind,
"It's Jess! She's here!"
Sarah knelt down in front of Jess, who had never
felt so embarrassed. Her head was down, and she swished her green striped tail
all around behind her, something most Xweetoks do when they're in a moment of
discomfort. She didn't at all like the way Kendra had dragged her into this,
and wished more than ever that she could just disappear.
Then she felt a soft hand lift her chin up, and
she saw Sarah's face smiling at her.
She has such beautiful eyes, Jess thought.
She also saw that Sarah was wearing a Sea Breath necklace like her and Kendra.
It struck her as funny to think that the only one who really belonged in this
Maraquan neighborhood was Primrose.
Sarah took Jess gently by the paw. "I'm glad
to have you as part of the family Jess," she welcomed warmly.
Jess's eyes shone. So she really had come to
a family, a loving family! She perked her ears and lifted her tail in earnest.
"I'm glad to be part of it too!" she replied with every trace of joy in her
Perhaps the most wonderful thing about what she
said was that she really and truly meant every word of it.